April 23, 2014

Washington Nationals Game 19 Review: Span Walk-off Sac Fly Earns Nats a Split with Cardinals

A day after the Bryce Harper hustle frenzy, the Washington Nationals created the right kind of drama Sunday afternoon by way of a Denard Span walk-off sacrifice fly to top the St. Louis Cardinals 3-2.

Stephen Strasburg (ND, 1-2) delivered with a solid enough outing to keep the Nats on the Cardinals’ tails. In fact, he allowed just one run until the fifth inning when, on two outs, he walked Peter Bourjos and allowed an RBI double to Shelby Miller to put St. Louis up 2-0.

The Nats pulled Strasburg after six to pinch-hit Zach Walters with two runners on. The strategy produced no runs for Washington, and it sent Strasburg back to the bench with no possibility of a win.

Through 5.1 innings pitched, St. Louis starter Shelby Miller never provided the Nats with an opportunity. Miller tossed 57 of 99 pitches for strikes, allowing no runs on four hits and five walks, while accruing seven strikeouts.

In the seventh, however, the Nats showed signs of life. With one out, Adam LaRoche and Anthony Rendon hit back-to-back singles off reliever Carlos Martinez. LaRoche came home on a hard-hit single by Ian Desmond, and Rendon scored on a single by Danny Espinosa that tied the game 2-2.

Craig Stammen, Jerry Blevins and Rafael Soriano pitched a combined three innings of scoreless baseball in relief, setting the Nationals up for a dramatic ninth inning comeback.

The inning lacked the pomp and circumstance of a one-swing walk off, but at this point in the season, that Nats should take a split with the Cardinals in any possible fashion. With one out, Espinosa and Jose Lobaton singled back-to-back before pinch-hitter Nate McLouth drew a walk to load the bases with Seth Maness on the mound.

After working through six pitches to earn a 2-2 count, Denard Span swung at a 83 MPH changeup to fly deep enough to right to allow Espinosa to score the game-winning run.

With the victory, the Nats take 2-of-4 against the Cardinals. Rafael Soriano earned the Curly W – his first of the season.

 

Washington Nationals Game 16 Review: Nats Held to Two Hits in Wainwright’s Complete-Game Shutout

On nights when the Washington Nationals find their groove, their offense has the power to stun opposing pitchers.

Thursday was not one of those nights.

The Washington Nationals started their 11-game home stretch with a downright frustrating 8-0 loss to Adam Wainwright and the St. Louis Cardinals.

From start to finish Wainwright (W, 3-1) was stellar on the mound, holding the Nats to just two hits through nine innings to record his seventh career shutout. And, from the batter’s box, he wasn’t so bad either – adding a double and a single to the Cardinals’ 14 total hits.

To make matters worse, the Nats tallied a whopping four errors on the night – two of which came from shortstop Ian Desmond, who now boasts seven errors on the season. Through 16 games, Washington has 20 total errors.

Desmond’s first error helped the Cardinals run with an early lead. The very first batter of the game – Matt Carpenter – reached first base safely after Desmond failed to field the routine drive.

But, Nats’ starter Taylor Jordan (L, 0-2) certainly committed his share of gaffes. He allowed a single to Kolten Wong and a quick double to Matt Holliday, which brought home Carpenter. Matt Adams’ grounder plated Kolten, and Yadier Molina singled in Holliday to give St. Louis an all-too-easy three-run lead.

After the first, however, Jordan regained at least brief control. Unfortunately, he lacked offense to back him up.

In fact, the bottom of the first marked the first of six total innings in which the Nats’ batters would retire in order.

The second inning proved the only time Washington threatened. Adam LaRoche led off with a walk before Desmond sought some redemption by way of a single up the middle. But, Danny Espinosa and Nate McLouth had no success in the box, and Wainwright intentionally walked Jose Lobaton to strike out Jordan in the nine-spot.

In the fourth, the Cardinals tacked on an insurance run. After Jhonny Peralta doubled with one out, Jon Jay reached on a throwing error by none other than Desmond. And, things went from bad to worse as Wainwright reached on a force attempt, which featured a miss catch error by Espinosa. The play allowed Peralta to score, but Jordan was able to prevent additional runs from crossing home plate.

In the sixth, however, Jordan simply lost control over his pitches. After striking out Peralta, he hit Jay with a runaway fastball before allowing Wainwright to single. By the time Jordan walked Carpenter to load the bases, the Nats had seen enough.

Unfortunately, reliever Blake Treinen had no added luck.

He struck out Wong on a 96-MPH fastball, but allowed Holliday to single in Jay, before Adams singled in both Wainwright and Carpenter.

Despite the sloppy inning and an added run in the seventh, Nationals manager Matt Williams seemingly allowed Treinen to sweat it out until the ninth.

When it came time for Jerry Blevins to take the mound, the Nats were down eight runs and had officially tallied twice as many errors as hits, thanks to a fielding error by Jayson Werth in the top of the eighth. Werth appeared to have lost a line drive by Molina in the lights as he charged forward with no hope of coming close to catching the ball.

The Nats will will want to turn their luck around tonight with left-hander Gio Gonzalez (2-1, 3.50) taking on Cardinals right-hander Michael Wacha (2-0, 1.89).

Last season, the Nats went 0-6 against St. Louis.

 

 

Washington Nationals Spring Training: Nats dump Cards 11-1

Stephen Strasburg gave up one run on two hits and two walks in three innings, but the Nats offense pounded out 11 runs on 15 hits as the Washington Nationals dumped the St. Louis Cardinals 11-1 at Space Coast Stadium in Viera on Sunday.

Strasburg wasn’t the sharpest in his second appearance, as he walked the first two batters he faced and did not record a strikeout. He did generate five ground ball outs and induced two double plays.

The rest of the pitchers that followed were near perfect. Matt Purke, Drew Storen, Craig Stammen, Christian Garcia and Luis Ayala combined for six innings of shutout ball, allowing just one hit and no walks, striking out four — three by Garcia in his inning of work.

To be fair, the Cardinals brought very few major league players for the road trip up U.S. 95.

Anthony Rendon led off and went 2-for-3 with a homer, two runs and an RBI. Wilson Ramos — hitting .563 this spring — went 2-for-3 with a run and 3 RBIs and Koyie Hill drove in two. Tyler Moore added a pair of hits in two trips.

The Nats host the Houston Astros at 6:05 on Monday.

 

Washington Nationals Game 159 Review: Zimmermann’s 20-win bid falls short in 4-1 loss

Jordan Zimmermann’s bit to become the only N.L. pitcher with 20 wins ended Wednesday with a 4-1 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. The Nats’ righty didn’t have his best day, and unfortunately his teammates still appear to be sleepwalking a bit following their ouster from the playoff chase on Monday.

With the win, the Cardinals reduced their “magic number” to two to win the N.L. Central.

The Nats broke out first in the opening frame against Cardinals starter Shelby Miller (W, 15-9, 3.06). Denard Span drew a walk leading off and promptly stole second. Ryan Zimmerman bounced on in front of the plate and was thrown out, but Span moved up to third. After Jayson Werth walked, Bryce Harper singled to center to being Span home. But the rally ended there, as Ian Desmond and Adam LaRoche both flied out with just the one run scored.

The Cards tied it up in the third. Daniel Descalso led off the inning with a double to deep center, took third on Miller’s sacrifice, and scored on Matt Carpenter’s ground out to first.

Zimmermann (L, 19-9, 3.25) ran into trouble in the fourth. He hit Matt Holliday with his first pitch of the inning, then gave up a double to Matt Adams to put runners at second and third. Yadier Molina then singled to center, scoring both. Pitching coach Steve McCatty came out to settle Zimmermann down and it worked, as he retired the next three batters in order.

But the Nats leading winner this season gave up a solo homer to Adams in the sixth, and that was pretty much the book on the three-game sweep for the Redbirds. Zimmermann went seven innings and allowed four earned runs on six hits. He did not walk a batter and ended with just two strikeouts.

THE GOOD: Not a whole lot. The Nats only managed five hits and looked rather like they were still playing with a “knocked-from-the-playoffs” hangover.

THE BAD: Ryan Zimmerman and Ian Desmond were both 0-for-4 and stranded three base runners.

THE UGLY: The Nats have lost four of their last five games.

THE STATS: 5 hits, 3 BBs, 6 Ks. 1-for-5 with RISP, 5 LOB. E: Desmond (20, throw), 1 DP.

NEXT GAME: Thursday in Arizona at 9:40 pm ET. Stephen Strasburg (7-9, 3.02) faces Patrick Corbin (14-7, 3.28).

Nats Nightly: Wacha’s no-hit bit ends in 9th; Nats lose 2-0

Dave Nichols of District Sports Page and Patrick Reddington and Doghouse of Federal Baseball discuss the Washington Nationals 2-0 loss the the St. Louis Cardinals and Michael Wacha’s no-hit bit.

Washington Nationals Game 158 Review: Zimmerman breaks up no-no in 9th but Nats lose 2-0

ROOKIE MICHAEL WACHA PITCHES 8 2/3 NO HIT INNINGS

St. Louis Cardinals rookie Michael Wacha stood one out away from achieving baseball immortality having thrown 8 2/3 innings without allowing a single hit. All that stood in the way of history was Ryan Zimmerman.

Unfortunately for Wacha, Zimmerman bounced a high chopper up the middle which ticked off Wacha’s glove. Shortstop Pete Kozma fielded it barehanded and threw to first, but the rushed, off-balanced throw pulled Matt Adams off the bag and Zimmerman eluded the sweeping tag.

Just like that, a weak ground ball turned into a single, and Wacha’s attempt at history passed.

Unfortunately for the Nats, Jayson Werth — representing the tying run — grounded out to first against reliever Trevor Rosenthal, so the Cardinals escaped with a 2-0 win regardless.

The Cardinals, still in a battle for first place in the N.L. Central with Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, picked up single runs in the third and fourth innings against Nats starter Gio Gonzalez (L, 11-8, 3.36, 2 ER, 6 H, 0 BB, 6 K).

In the third, Matt Carpenter hit a two-out double and came home on a single by Shane Robinson. The next inning, Adams singled to lead off and scored on Yadier Molina’s RBI double.

The rest was all Wacha. The 22-year-old rookie, who made his debut in May and was making his ninth start of the season, was superb. Working mostly with his fastball and changeup, Wacha kept the Nats hitters off balance all night and he struck out nine in total.

The Nats got one base runner in the fifth, when Adam LaRoche’s routine ground ball got through second baseman Carpenter, a second in the seventh when Zimmerman walked, and a third when LaRoche walked in the eighth. But Wilson Ramos grounded into a double play to erase LaRoche.

NEXT GAME: Wednesday at 1:45 pm ET. Jordan Zimmermann (19-8, 3.18) faces Shelby Miller (14-9, 3.12)

 

Nats Nightly: 4-3 loss to Cardinals eliminates Nats from playoff chase

Dave Nichols of District Sports Page and Patrick Reddington and Doghouse from Federal Baseball discuss the Washington Nationals 4-3 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals and their elimination from the playoff chase.

Washington Nationals Game 157 Review: Nats eliminated from playoff chase with loss to Cards

NATIONALS ELIMINATED FROM PLAYOFF CONTENTION WITH REDS & PIRATES WINS

The Washington Nationals late-season charge for the playoffs ended Monday night, as they fell to the St. Louis Cardinals 4-3, Combined with victories by the Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates, the Nats were mathematically eliminated from the playoff race.

Tanner Roark, outbattled by Cards starter Adam Wainright,  took the loss, allowing four runs on nine hits and a walk in five innings.

The Nats went right to work on Wainright (W, 18-9, 3.01) in the first inning and took an early lead. Denard Span led the game off with a single and after Ryan Zimmerman flew out to deep center, Jayson Werth hit a rocket to left for his 24th home run of the season, giving the Nats a quick 2-0 lead.

That lead would be short-lived, however, as the Cardinals answered in the bottom half. Matt Carpenter drew a walk from Roark (L, 7-1, 1.74), went to third on a Matt Adams two-out single, and came home on Yadier Molina’s base hit.

The Cards tied it up in the fourth. David Freese singled and moved up a base on Daniel Descalsco’s single. Freese then scored on Shane Robinson’s soft line drive that fell in about a foot from the right field line.

Carlos Beltran broke the tie in the next inning. Jon Jay led off the fifth with a single and scored on Beltran’s no-doubt-about-it homer to right field.

The Nats got one back in the eighth. Anthony Rendon singled to lead off the frame and went to second on pinch-hitter Steve Lombardozzi’s bunt single. Denard Span sacrificed to move both runners up. Zimmerman grounded out to short to bring home Rendon, but Werth grounded to third to end the threat with the Nats still down a run.

THE GOOD: Jayson Werth. Nice homer.

THE BAD: Adam LaRoche went 0-for-4.

THE UGLY: Bryce Harper fouled a ball off his foot/shin area. Like he needs one more thing to worry about.

THE STATS: 7 hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks. 0-for-4 with RISP, 3 LOB. No errors, one DP.

NEXT GAME: Tuesday against the Cardinals at 8:15 pm ET. Gio Gonzalez (11-7, 3.39) faces Michael Wacha (3-1, 3.21).

Washington Nationals Game 21 Review: Nats fall below .500 after sweep by Cards

The Washington Nationals are scuffling. No, that would imply some measure of success. They flat-out aren’t hitting at all right now, as they managed just five runs total in three games against the St. Louis Cardinals in a three-game sweep, completed by a 4-2 loss Wednesday at Nationals Park before 33,694.

Looking to halt a three-game losing streak — and five straight at home — Nats ace Stephen Strasburg gave the Nats a quality outing in the bright sunshine. But right now, Nats pitchers have to be perfect to give the team a chance to succeed and he was not that. With the loss, the Nats drop below .500 (10-11) for the first time since 2011.

The Cards did their damage to Strasburg in the first before the big guy was able to settle in. Matt Carpenter led off with a double on a soft line drive. After Allen Craig struck out, Matt Holliday flipped a pitch to right for a single. Strasburg lost Carlos Beltran on five pitches to load the bases, and Yadier Molina delivered the “big” blow, a bloop single to right to plate two. Beltran scored when the next batter, Daniel Descalso, grounded to third baseman Anthony Rendon and the rookie made a trhowing error trying to get the force at second base to ignite a double play.

Strasburg settled in after that, mowing through the Cardinals lineup for the next six innings. The Nats ace did not give up another run and infact, never pitched into trouble again. He retired 19 of the last 20 hitters he faced to keep the Nats in the game. Strasburg’s final line was solid: 7.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 H, 1 BB, 7 K, 110-76; but with the way the Nats are hitting these days, it wasn’t nearly enough.

The Nats pushed one run across in the sixth off a tiring Jaime Garcia, but they wasted a couple big opportunities to get back into the game. Strasburg led off with a single up the middle, Denard Span followed and did the same. Jayson Werth tapped back to the picher to move the runners two second and third with one out. Bryce Harper (0-for-4) grounded to second to bring in Strasburg to break up the shutout. Tyler Moore then coaxed a walk from Garcia to put runners on the corners.

St. Louis manager Mike Matheny then lifted Garcia in favor of reliever Joe Kelly, to face Ian Demsond. Kelly fed Desmond a steady diet of outside pitches until Desmond swung through a curveball to end the inning.

The Nats got Kelly in trouble the following inning but could not capitalize. Anthony Rendon and Jhonatan Solato both hit one-out singles, putting runners on the corner. Nats manager Davey Johnson pinch-hit Steve Lombardozzi for Strasburg. Kelly served Lombardozzi three straight balls to set up a great opportunity, but Kelly was able to work the count full. Johnson then put on the hit-and-run, but Lombo swung through a two-seam fastball and the catcher running was out by 10 feet to kill the rally.

Drew Storen continued his early-season struggles, allowing a run in the eighth on three base hits.

The Nats cut the lead back to two on a Jayson Werth solo home run int he bottom of the eighth, but Trevor Rosenthal came back to overmatch Adam LaRoche and Ian Desmond, striking both batters out on three pitches — all fastballs.

THE GOOD: Strasburg. Once he got past his first inning jitters, he was the same old Steven Strasburg. He’s gotta figure out how to avoid those long first innings.

THE BAD: Danny Espinosa. 0-for-4, K. Average down to .155 and OBP less than .200. Nah, a torn rotator cuff has nothing to do with it.

THE UGLY: Adam LaRoche. I know he only got one at bat, but he looked as lost as he has all season. Swung at three pitches, late on everything. Just looked completely overmatched against the hard-throwing Rosenthal.

THE STATS: 7 hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks. 0-for-7 with RISP, 6 LOB. E: Rendon (2, throw), two DPs.

NEXT GAME: Thursday against the Cincinnati Reds at 7:05 pm. Gio Gonzalez (1-1, 5.85) hosts Bronson Arroyo (2-1, 3.54).

Washington Nationals Game 20 Review: Wainwright shuts down Nats, 2-0

Ross Detwiler (L, 1-1) did his best to position the Washington Nationals (10-10) for a win Tuesday night, but it only took the St. Louis Cardinals (12-8) four consecutive hits in the fourth to edge out their East Coast rivals, 2-0.

Prior to Tuesday night’s matchup, Detwiler had not yet allowed more than one run in a single start this season. In fact, he became the first Nationals pitcher in the team’s short history to allow only one run or less in each of his first three starts of 6.0+ innings pitched.  [Read more...]

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